I have never understood the reasons behind celebrating birthdays. Why should I be happy and celebrate on the day I was born – my contribution in my birth was as good as Sehwag’s contribution in Nottingham test. But then, celebrating on an achievement which is a result of other’s hard work is something that no one minds to do. Didn’t we all celebrate on the night of 2nd April?
Birthdays are strange. On your 0th, you start celebrating by crying without tears. Next time you wonder why there is so much chaos around you. Slowly you start realizing that there is this one day in the year when you are treated really well – you wear new clothes, you get a lots of gifts, you can get away scot-free even after breaking new crockery at home and all that. You realize that this is your day.
But soon, birthdays start changing their meaning. They are no longer celebrated at home. You celebrate them with your friends, somewhere outside. Gifts are replaced with birthday bumps which are the best way for others take their grudge out against you. If you are lucky/ unlucky to have a girlfriend, you ditch your male friends to celebrate the day with her. “Can’t you spend one day with me? Just one day?” And you are left thinking “Don’t you get tired of using the same trick every day?”
If you are lucky/ unlucky to be single, you spend rest of the day thinking “Will she wish me? Does she remember that it’s today?” She often wishes you your birthday weeks after it has passed “Hey, belated happy birthday. Why didn’t you tell me it was your birthday? You should have, no?” And you are left thinking “I remind you 200 times a year that my birthday falls on this day of the year. May be I should get that tattooed it on my forehead now”
Slowly it all starts getting boring. Celebrating with friends becomes rare as people hardly have time. You get rid of “Can’t you spend one day with me” problem posed by girl friends as you have a bigger issue at hands – wife. All you get are calls from friends and family wishing you on this day and asking a question – “So, how are you celebrating today? How is it going?” and you start thinking the answer “How is it going? My son dropped the cake on my new shirt which is beyond repair now. My boss, the pig, has had me for breakfast and lunch and preparing me for dinner too. Market tanked 500 points today which means a loss of 50k. My friend who cannot even spell raise has got a raise of 50% in his new job. And these buggers lost again, this time in 3 days.” but all you say is “Oh, it’s going great”.
Birthdays also mean it’s time for resolutions, the birthday resolutions. Very often, these resolutions are broken on the very next day. Only once, I have opted for a resolution. Interestingly, it is yet to be broken.
The date was quite interesting – 9/9/99. I was doing my graduation. In case you know me, I guess you know it all. In case you do not know, I am happy about it as you have no idea how awful I was as a student. But I somehow always managed to get marks good enough to take me into next semester. Not that I didn’t dream big – I always dreamt of topping the class but my efforts made sure that this dream ended in being a day dream. But there was one course; I think transport phenomena (TP), in one of the semesters that I found very interesting. I liked it not because of the quality of the content but because of the lack of efforts needed to understand it. The subject was taught by three different teachers hence we had our exams in three parts – each part was to be set by a different teacher, 10 marks each.
Mid-semester exams happened, for TP as well. I did well and for first time, I felt confident after an exam. Soon, we were shown our answer sheets. I saw my answer sheet for TP-1, I had scored a perfect 10. I saw answer sheet for TP-2, I had scored a perfect 10. TP-3 was remaining to be seen. A perfect 30 was there for the taking. Never in my life had I scored 100% in any subject, never. This was going to be my moment – my moment of glory, my 1983, my 1947, and my 1857. I was thinking on the lines of “All this while I was struggling because none of the subject tested the real skills. You could blindly swat up the stuff, puke it out in the exams and score. They didn’t test the analytical ability of the mind. Damn our education system. It kills the real brains like mine” Confidence can do wonders is what I was told.
It was 9/9/99 – my birthday. Marks for TP-3 were displayed in the department office. Lot of guys scored 10 out of 10. But only 3-4 of them had got a perfect 10 in both TP-1 and TP-2 as well. I was expecting 10. I got 9. First words that came to my mind were “What the F****? Have I just seen Javagal Srinath sledging someone or Kumble turning the ball?” I was angry. I was distraught. I couldn’t believe it. To me, I had written the most perfect answers ever yet somehow professor found a way to deny me a perfect 10. Where could he have cut that one mark? Where? Where? Where?
I went into professor’s room where people were looking at their answer sheets. Professor was sitting in his chair with a boring look on his face, “What are you all searching in those answer sheets. I asked. You answered. I checked. You got marks. Now go back to your hostels and let me go home, you morons” he looked like thinking.
I, high on thinking that I had a right to be treated as a king on my birthday, barged into his room. I made my way through the crowd of my batch mates, picked up my answer sheet from the heap, had a look at it and almost threw in front of the professor saying “Sir, you have given me 9”
“What? Have I? 9 to you? There must have been a mistake. Let me have a look”
I felt a bit relieved “Even I thought so Sir. Please have a re-look”
“Yes. I am sure you couldn’t have scored more than 5” he said in a sarcastic manner. I had a terrible impression on him. To him, I was the most useless student of his class.
“Sir, I think I deserve 10. There is nothing wrong with my answers”
“I wonder how you managed to answer the questions. You must have copied from someone” he said while looking at my answer sheet.
“This is a baseless allegation. Either you should have caught me then or you prove it now” I was fuming.
“Son, I think you have got more than you deserve. Now get the hell out of my room. I am getting late” he tossed my answer sheet towards the heap piled up on his desk.
I picked up my answer sheet and started comparing it with a batch mate’s, X, answer sheet. X was professor’s blue eyed boy. He was one of those intelligent, cunning, diligent, hard working students who had a really long tongue. If I was a pain in a certain place for the professor, X licked that certain place really well. Hope you get what I mean by that certain place. To the professor, he was above all. But I cared a damn. I wanted my perfect 10. I thought I deserved it more than anyone else. I wanted to prove that I was better than professor’s best.
I showed my answer sheet to the professor along with X’s – “See Sir, my answers are much more perfect than his. Then why 9 to me and 10 to him”
May be this act of mine lit a fire cracker in a petrol pump. I could see professor’s nostrils turning as big as Sreesanth, his face turning as red as Shaun Pollock’s hair and him standing up as if he was getting ready to bash me up.
“How the hell you compare yourself with X?” the pitch of his voice left everyone stunned.
“Sir, I am not comparing myself with X. I am comparing my answers with X’s. There is a difference” I wasn’t going to back out.
“One more word and I will re-evaluate your answer sheet. Let me assure you, you may not get more than 5 this time”
“Oh, I would request you to do that. I deserve 10, nothing less than that”
Anger was fuming on both the sides. “Sir, it’s his birthday today. Please…..” A friend tried to pour some ice on fire.
“What the hell I am supposed to do if he was born today? Declare a national holiday?” roared the professor “One more word and I shall make sure you never pass in my course. Get the hell out of here. All of you” he stomped his authority and victory. I had to back out this time.
I almost threw my answer sheet on his desk, stared at him hard but caved in to his threat – I didn’t utter single word after that. I came out of his office.
A friend asked me, “Why were you fighting with him? What’s the difference between 9 and 10? You almost spoiled your day”
“I don’t know” I said. I couldn’t have explained the dates to him -1983, 1947 and 1857. Articulation has never been my forte.
Later in the semester, professor kept his promise too. I did manage to pass in his course. Just that he made me pay for my stare and other histrionics; I barely managed the passing marks.
On that day, 9/9/99, I decided to never go for a review in my life, never. This is one resolution I have always stuck to. May be that is why I am not a DRS fan.